Sherlock Holmes

So I’m eagerly awaiting the US release for the second season (or series to you Brits) of BBC’s Sherlock and it got me in the mood to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I have been, since before the Guy Ritchie movies, a big ACD Holmes fan. He’s a Victorian detective House (very simply put) but oh so much better.

Some time ago I bought the Complete Sherlock Holmes for both Kindle and paperback. It contains, so far as I know, all of Doyle’s original Holmes stories, including the novels of A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles. I’m really very hard pressed to choose a favorite story as I find most all of them entertaining on some level. Sherlock is a master detective and a master at the back handed compliment.

So, I won’t try to summarize all the various stories. There are far, far to many to do so in a single post. I will, however, pick a few of my favorites to recommend them to you.

-A Study in Scarlet: This is a full novel of Sherlock Holmes. It introduces him and Dr. John Watson. It gives a bit of back story for Watson and include their first case together. I was a bit confused when I first read it because I thought that it suddenly broke into an entirely different story with entirely different characters. But if you can stick with it, it’s well worth the read.

-A Scandal in Bohemia: This story introduces The Woman, Irene Adler. A bit of a warning for you Ritchie fans, she isn’t quite like the lovely Rachel McAdams portrayed. She certainly outwits Sherlock at every turn but I believe she had only one ‘spoken’ line in the entire story. It is one of the more fun stories in the Holmes verse.

The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle: Sherlock solves a Christmas time mystery involving a felt hat, a dead goose and a blue carbuncle (a garnet related gem). This is another fun one.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band: It’s an engaging story with a woman who is not quite the typical helpless Victorian lady. She’s in some what of an abusive relationship with her step-father but finds the courage to ask help from Holmes and Watson.

The Final Problem: This is the one where Holmes faces down the dastardly (good word that, one hardly ever gets to use it) Professor James Moriarty. I believe I read somewhere (probably on the net so beware the ‘facts’) that Doyle so despised Holmes’ popularity at this point that he had killed off the detective in this story hoping to never return to writing him. Didn’t quite work out as planned.

The Adventure of the Empty House: Holmes makes his triumphant return to London and his old friend Watson. I love this story because Watson has such a visceral reaction to Holmes’ return and yet I’m a little disappointed that Watson didn’t pop him one. I’m hoping that the BBC Watson will do that during the updated version of this story. 🙂

The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot: This one features a Holmes’ that is less than the ‘superman’ that he was portrayed as previously. His poor habits during (and between) cases had left him on the verge of a break down and Watson takes him to recover in the country. Of course, life isn’t that simple for the pair and a murder mystery finds them.

The Adventure of the Three Garridebs: Holmes investigates the story of a will with the strange stipulation that the inheritance be split between three adult men with the unusual last name of Garrideb. I like this one because we finally see a glimpse of just how much Watson means to Holmes.

There are many other stories that I enjoyed but these ones stick out most in my mind at the moment. I’m not sure what I’ll move on to next but this was a good break from my usual fare of urban fantasy. If you haven’t read Sherlock Holmes before, I highly suggest the stories. A+

Sherlock Revisited

So I’ve been on this total Sherlock Holmes and Great Britain kick lately. I’m a total Anglophile, though not so bad that I stayed up for the royal wedding a few months ago. 🙂 At any rate, I got started on this by watching BBC’s new Sherlock series. If you haven’t watched it, Netflix it. Now. I’ll wait.

Done? Fantastic! And so is that show. So sad I don’t get BBC America, but I digress. I’m here to pick up an anthology called The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This was a collection of short stories featuring the worlds greatest detective as written by fantasy authors. There are well known authors such as Steven King and Neil Gaiman, as well as a bunch of folks I hadn’t heard of.

Arthur Conan Doyle was a spiritualist and as such, he worked some of his beliefs into his Holmes stories, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, which featured the mystery of a demonic hound. Holmes himself wasn’t a spiritualist and indeed proved the hound to be nothing more than a violently trained dog covered in a phosphoric substance. Inevitably in the Holmes stories, there is always a reasonable and logical explanation.

This anthology was based on the premise: What if there wasn’t a logical explanation? What if some of the things Holmes investigated turned out to be truly inexplicable? Or what if the world Holmes lived in featured the supernatural in every day life. This was a chance to go to town with Holmes.

The book started out promisingly enough with a short by Stephen King. Normally I’m not a Stephen King fan. An ex-boyfriend of mine gave me a collection of King’s short stories, telling me that they were creepy and horrifying. I used them to get to sleep at night. It wasn’t that I didn’t get what King was going for. I did. I just found his writing a bit too trite and predictable for me. I’m the type of person who figured out that Bruce Willis was ghost half way through The Sixth Sense, so the short Trucks didn’t do it for me.

At any rate, Stephen King wrote a refreshingly subtle and original Holmes short. It wasn’t too different than something that Doyle would write I feel (and yes, I have read the original Holmes. All of them. I love them) but with just a little bit of a spiritual twist.  I was a feeling better about having spent 15 bucks on the book.

The next story (or perhaps the third, can’t remember the order at the moment) featured a mirror universe. Being a Trek fan, I know that alternate or mirror universes are often used in sci-fi/fantasy stories. I like them because you can see the what if but you can get the original that you love back.  Haven’t you ever wondered with an evil Holmes or a good Moriarty would be like? Well, read the book! 😀

I was a little disappointed however by some of the later stories. Some of them didn’t really seem to have anything to do with science fiction or fantasy at all. That’s not to say that they weren’t entertaining or well written, but I was expecting a bit more fantasy in a book I found in the fantasy section of the book store.

All in all it was worth the read. The writing was very well done (B/B+). However, I have to give it an overall rating of C+ simply because there could have been much more fantasy involved in some of these stories. And man, they should have let Jim Butcher have a crack at one of those stories!